The majority of people charged the fee don't pay. For example, only about 3,000 of the roughly 16,300 people charged last fiscal year have paid for their jail stay so far, according to city records.
“We never really expected that we would be able to collect all of it,” Davis said.
“Some of these people don't even have a house, or they don't have any money, or they don't live here, or whatever.”
The city can seek the money as a civil or criminal debt. It can be subject to a tax lien, and negatively affect a credit score. But one method the city won't use to collect the money or penalize those who can't pay is arresting them again just for the unpaid fine.
“What we really don't want to do is create a new $117 fee by arresting you today for not paying your $117 (fine) that you got last month,” Davis said. “That's just not palatable to anybody. Nobody thinks that's fair for just piling that on.”